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Prevalence of Adolescent Problem Gambling: A Systematic Review of Recent Research

Título: Prevalence of Adolescent Problem Gambling: A Systematic Review of Recent Research
Autores: Filipa Calado, Joana Alexandre, Mark D. Griffiths
Ano: 2017


Previous research has shown that gambling is a popular activity among adolescents. Following a rapid expansion of legalized gambling opportunities and the emergence of new forms of gambling, many researchers have carried out studies on adolescent gambling and problem gambling. The present paper reviews studies that have been conducted worldwide since 2000, and then presents a more detailed picture of adolescent gambling research in Europe, by providing a country-by country analysis. After an extensive search on academic databases and following an exclusion process, 44 studies were identified. The findings showed that 0.2–12.3 % of youth meet criteria for problem gambling, notwithstanding differences among assessment instruments, cut-offs, and timeframes. However, despite this variability, several demographic characteristics were associated with adolescent gambling involvement and problem gambling. It is concluded that a small but significant minority of adolescents have gambling-related problems. Such findings will hopefully encourage more research into youth gambling to further understand the determinants of this phenomenon.


International studies have consistently shown that gambling is part of the life experiences of most young people (Hayer and Griffiths 2014). Furthermore, the current generation of youth have grown up in an era where gambling opportunities are widespread (Volberg et al. 2010; Gupta and Derevensky 2000). In addition, the development of technology has generated new forms of gambling via the Internet, mobile phone and interactive television (Griffiths and Parke 2010). It has also been argued that youth are receptive to modern forms of gambling because of the apparent similarity between these games and other familiar technology-based games (Delfabbro et al. 2009).

Furthermore, the increased availability of legal gambling appears to have led to some increases in the prevalence of adolescent gambling and to the development of gambling problems among young people. Recent studies (e.g., Molinaro et al. 2014) indicate that in spite of adolescent gambling being an illegal activity, youth engage in gambling with a prevalence rate higher than adults (Gupta and Derevensky 2000; Volberg et al. 2010).

Thus, concerns about adolescent gambling have encouraged public health workers to study the epidemiology of gambling as this helps to characterize this phenomenon (Gupta and Derevensky 2014). Consequently, there is a need for conducting a systematic review in order to synthesize the trends in adolescent gambling and to analyse the comparative prevalence of problem gambling rates across different countries.

Therefore, the aim of the present review is twofold. Firstly, to briefly review the most recent international research published since 2000, with respect to problem gambling prevalence rates among adolescents, as the past few decades have witnessed an unprecedented growth in the gambling industry, which could have led to the development of gambling-related problems among young people (Meyer et al. 2009). Secondly to present a more detailed picture of adolescent gambling in Europe. Although there are other reviews in the literature concerning adolescent gambling (e.g., Volberg et al. 2010; Kristiansen and Jensen 2011), these are now outdated and did not provide a country-by-country overview of adolescent gambling across a whole continent. Therefore, the present review updates and expands on previous reviews and provides a brief country-by-country analysis of the evidence of adolescent gambling and problem gambling in that particular country in alphabetical order.


A literature search was carried out using the following databases: Scopus, PsycINFO, Science Direct, PsycARTICLES, PubMED, Wiley Online Library, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Academic Search complete and Google Scholar. The following search terms were used: “youth gambling prevalence” “adolescent gambling” “adolescent problem gambling” “youth gambling addiction” “youth compulsive gambling”. The search was conducted with the same terms in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, in order to obtain as many prevalence studies as possible and to avoid English publication bias.

The studies were selected on the basis of containing the following criteria: (1) being published since 2000; and (2) citing gambling prevalence rates for adolescents and young people (with an age that could range from 10 to 24 years). Moreover, reference lists of retrieved studies and from other reviews already available in the literature were also searched in order to identify any additional relevant studies. The goal was to locate all prevalence studies that were conducted at a national level. Therefore, for countries that had prevalence data at both regional and national level, only national data were considered. However, in the case of countries that did not have a national prevalence study, but instead had conducted studies at a regional level with a representative sample, these studies were included. Studies were also excluded if they (1) had a sample size of less than 500 participants, (2) did not use a standardized instrument to assess problem gambling, and (3) assessed problem gambling in the context of a specific form of gambling, such as Internet gambling.


In the first step, 54 studies were identified after a careful examination of the titles and abstracts of the studies generated by the search on the aforementioned databases and through reference lists from other studies and reviews. In the second step, studies were excluded due to the following criteria: (1) a sample of less than 500 participants (three studies); (2) did not use a standardized measure to assess problem gambling (five studies), and (3) only examined gambling and problem gambling in the context of a specific form of gambling (two studies). Therefore, the final search yielded 44 studies, which are summarized in Table 1. The majority of studies were published in English (n = 42), with one study in French, and one study in Spanish. Two studies were conducted in North America, one in South America, one in Asia, five in Oceania, and 35 in Europe.
Fonte: Springer
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